ITC Favors Microsoft in Patent Case, Bans Motorola Devices
- By Kurt Mackie
- May 21, 2012
Motorola Mobility Inc. has violated Microsoft's intellectual
property, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled on Friday.
The ruling concerns a meeting scheduling software patent. The technology is
associated with the use of the Android mobile operating system and is
associated with Microsoft ActiveSync technology, according to an
announcement issued by a Microsoft spokesperson.
Though Motorola can appeal the decision, the court noted (.PDF)
that it has issued an exclusion order that prohibits the import of
Motorola mobile products that use the technology.
The court had originally considered Microsoft's contentions about a
year-and-a-half ago that nine of its patents were infringed by Motorola.
Those contentions were reduced to one charge, with Motorola found to have
infringed on a patent for "Generating meeting requests and group
scheduling from a mobile device" (Patent
At this point, Motorola Mobility could pay royalties to license the
technology from Microsoft or it could remove the technology from its U.S.
imports. In any case, the ITC has set a penalty. Motorola has to "post a
bond set at a reasonable royalty rate in the amount of $0.33 per device"
while the case undergoes ITC "presidential review."
An attorney for Microsoft claimed that the suit was brought in the first
place because Motorola had refused to renew a licensing agreement.
"Microsoft sued Motorola in the ITC only after Motorola chose to refuse
Microsoft's efforts to renew a patent license for well over a year,"
said David Howard, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel
at Microsoft, in a released statement. "We're pleased the full
Commission agreed that Motorola has infringed Microsoft's intellectual
property, and we hope that now Motorola will be willing to join the vast
majority of Android device makers selling phones in the US by taking a
license to our patents."
Microsoft claims that about 70 percent of original equipment
manufacturers have signed agreements on using its intellectual property
alleged to be used in Android. Motorola is one of the few such
manufacturers to have taken the matter to court.
The two companies still have other legal actions pending. An unrelated
case in Germany found Microsoft to be the intellectual property offender
with its Exchange ActiveSync technology, but that case is getting
second look. The two companies also are fighting over the cost of essential
royalties in yet another case.
One backdrop to these legal actions is intense competition in the mobile
operating systems markets. Microsoft and Apple have both claimed that the
leading mobile OS, the Linux-based Android, violates their intellectual
property. Google, which fostered Android and gives it to equipment
manufacturers royalty free, is currently seeking final regulatory
approvals to buy Motorola Mobility. That purchase is designed, in part, to
bolster Google's collection of patents for legal defensive purposes.
Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.